A Distinctively Modern Loneliness

Only in a state of alienation can there be such thing as the longing to return to nature.


Zen Buddhists say: Wash out your mouth every time you say Buddha. To contemporary environmentalists, I wish to say: Wash out your mouth every time you say “Nature” or “Environment”!

So long as we live fixated on our screens, unacquainted with the smell of dirt, we will remain caught in this double bind: alienated from nature, longing for “Nature.”

So long as we feel detached from nature, we will yearn for it — as if it were something separate, as if it were just a concept of our invention, as if we were not born-of and made-of it, as if we could even exist or survive without the relations that comprise it.

So long as we “grow” and “progress” and “develop,” we will dream in screenshots instead of landscapes. Forests, deer and wolves will be good for desktop pictures. We will cordon off our love for only a select few species of animals, while the rest we will use for food, clothing and entertainment.

This is why they don’t visit me in my dreams. Why they do not speak to us anymore. Why they run away when humans get close.